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					                      BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
                        (MARK 16:1-14)

INTRODUCTION

       G.K. Chesterton once said: “When men cease to believe in
God, they do not believe in nothing; they believe in anything!”
Tonight will start the first of two sermons on the 16th Chapter of
Mark—one of the most poignant and controversial chapter in the
New Testament. To some, this may seem like old hat to them. But,
if there is a bible lesson that can never be studied enough, it would
be the one that tells us to believe and obey. If we are truly
Christians, we will seek to serve His will and be obedient to his
command. This week, I want us to focus in on the first 14 verses,
and next week, we’ll continue on from 14 and through to the end.

READ MARK 16:1-14

PRAYER

I. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

       This is probably one of the most frustrating chapters we can
read in the entire Bible—namely because we are looking at it from
this side of the cross. First, these two women are at a loss, trying
to figure out what has happened. When the angel told them what
was going on, they were terrified! Sure the angel said “Don’t be
frightened,” but that was order easier given than followed! They
shot off as mentioned in verse 8, and headed for the city. Matthew
reports in 28:9-10 that Jesus met up with them on the way to the
city. He told them to have the disciples to meet in Galilee, an
order He gave them before, but so consumed with sorrow and
terror over the loss of their Master they hadn’t yet fulfilled, as seen
in verse 10.
      When the disciples heard that HE was alive, they jumped up
and rejoiced, screaming praise for the Lord God Almighty....right?
On the contrary, the words used were REFUSED TO BELIEVE IT!
The Master had taught, told, and showed the disciples the
Messianic evidence in Him. These men told Him that they would
be loyal to the end, bring about the start of the new kingdom, and
follow Him wherever He needed. They didn’t BELIEVE He was
alive! They were going on what they had seen, and not what was
presented to them. They were just guys like us—and we don’t
have people resurrecting after being dead three days in today’s
world, do we? Simply put—They had to see it to believe it!

      It didn’t stop here though! Two men were walking into the
country and he appeared again. Look at Luke 24:13-26, then skip
over to 31-34.

READ LUKE 24:13-26, 31-34

      Because they were having a hard time comprehending this,
Christ appeared again! First, Christ was witness by two women
and the disciples rejected it. Now, two more people who followed
Christ were standing there telling them the exact same thing. And
what was the result? They did not believe them either! Aren’t we
glad Christ is patient with those of us that are hard-headed!?

      Jesus then appeared to them, but He was far from happy
about their heart conditions. Thomas even said that he actually
had to touch Christ’s wounds before he could believe. Just as it is
recorded in John 20:29, Jesus asked them, “Because you have seen
me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet
believe!” So we had witness testimony, physical evidence, and
the formerly-dead body of the Master was now very much alive
and in front of the jury of 11. Did they finally believe? If the book
of Acts is any indicator of their belief, then the answer is
absolutely!
II. BELIEVE IS...

      I want us to look at the word that is used repeatedly in this
section—Believe! The main use of the term “believe” comes
from pisteuos, a verb that shows us that belief isn’t just something
we say, but something we practice and do! A verb instills action,
not inaction. I saw a poster at a store one time that had an
incredible statement on it. It had a sailboat, out in the middle of an
ocean FILLED with icebergs. Below this picture it read, “A boat
in a harbor is safe...but that's not what boats are made for!” I
thought “Man, what a testimony to those that feel safe in the ideas
of Christendom rather than Christianity! You’re not going to get
anywhere sitting at the dock of faith, your boat has to constantly be
in motion. By believing, we are acting on what Christ has done
through His resurrection, but we have to continue to OBEY Him.

      Remember I said if Acts was an indicator of what the
disciples held true, then they must have believed? I want us to
look at a couple of these examples. In Acts 2:36-38, Peter is
preaching the first gospel message, and these people are ready to
believe. What is their first question after accepting the Lordship of
Christ? “Brethren, what shall we do?” The first action belief has
in the heart of a sinner is to seek Christ’s Will. And Peter gives the
answer His Master did, “Repent, and each of you be baptized for
the forgiveness of sin, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
In obedience those that sought Christ came to a saving knowledge,
the same way that Peter’s proclamation of the gospel showed that
he would adhere to the teaching of Jesus. With belief obedience
isn’t optional.

       Look at Acts 16:30-34. Here a Philippian jailer is about to
kill himself after he thinks all of the prisoners have escaped. What
happens is amazing, although often misinterpreted. Paul, Silas,
and the rest of the prisoners are free from their shackles, but still in
the cell. They had the chance to flee, but sought to be obedient
even to death. This jailer comes in, amazed at what has happened
and asked a very familiar question—what must I do to be saved?
Paul answers in 31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be
saved, you and your household.” Wait a minute...is Paul changing
the way salvation is imparted by Christ!? Never! Our country is
so blessed, that everyone, even those who chose not to believe,
have heard the Name of Jesus. Unfortunately, it has started to
make us blind to the needs of the individuals in the scriptures. The
Philippian Jailer, being of Roman citizenship, worshiped roman
gods. Thus, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were a brand new
concept to him. He can’t very well believe is something he knows
nothing about. I can’t very well quiz someone who has never
opened a bible in their life on the plan of salvation can I? No, I
have to take time out and show them what the scriptures say. Then,
they can make the informed decision they need to. And in verse 33,
that is exactly what happened. He (the jailer) took them that very
hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately
(notice the lack of hesitation here) he was baptized, he and his
household. Faith comes from hearing the Gospel, hearing leads to
belief, and belief ultimately leads to obedience and salvation.

III. BELIEVE ISN’T...

      As Christians, we are confident that Christ died, was buried,
and rose again. His appearance to the women, the two travelers on
the road, and the disciples confirm it at all points. However, some
feel that the assurance that we have in scripture is too confining.
They make claims of “faith based on works” without
understanding what the term means, and so seek a broader way of
understanding the scriptures. This is where you hear the words
“faith only,” and “All you have to is believe.” There’s that word
again! Believe! My question to those that follow faith only is this:
If belief is an action as we have studied that it is in Mark 16,
doesn’t that count for work? If you don’t think it is, try telling an
atheist about Christ! It’s a little difficult. Then I know there are a
number of people who say that works don’t get you in to Heaven,
and all you have to do is say the sinner’s prayer. I have said it
before and will continue to till my dying day: there is never a
single mention of a sinner praying their way to Heaven in the
entire New Testament. And in fact, the last time I checked,
praying took action. Thus, we have to be solid in our belief and
back it up with the teachings of the scriptures, and not allow pride
and the doctrine of man to interfere with what they say.

       Still, there are others that stay “Hey, I want to believe, but I
have to see proof!” These modern-day Thomases are looking for
faith in modern day “miracles,” such as healers, charismatic acts
such as glossalallia, or speaking in tongues, or simply from that
little spark of emotion that comes from an entertaining service.
Faith and belief isn’t about entertainment. It’s like I said in the
morning message, it’s what He wants, not us. We should be
second thoughts in the service to our Lord. But those who seek
this show and tell form of church are not looking to God, but their
own emotions and intellect. They want answers in a physical sense,
but remember what Christ said in John 20:29? We need to believe
by an examination of the scriptures, and allow Christ to answer our
questions rather than signs.

V. CONCLUSION

      I want us to look at one more place in this section, and at the
same time, we’re going to get a sneak peek at next week’s sermon.
I want each of us to look at Mark 16:16. I want us to really look at
that verse closely, because we may be missing something. “He
who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who
has disbelieved shall be condemned.” The word for believe from
the same verb as the rest of the chapter, but there is one part that
we are often overlooking. We as Christians drive the point home
to believe and be baptized, but we are afraid of the next part of the
verse! He that disbelieves, he that believeth not, he that does not
believe...are just a few of the words that are used in various
versions. I have here another word. The word is pronounced
“apisteo.” Some of those who study their words might recognize
this one. We derive the words apostacy and apostate from it. The
basic definition of apisteo is....disobey. There’s no two ways
around it, this statement in 16:16 is life or death.

      Let me put it in modern terms, say I am driving 55 miles per
hour down Hwy 55 heading to Lebanon (I’ll pause for a moment
to allow you to laugh at the thought of that). But say I am riding
down the road and this guy on one of these new supercharged
motorcycles blows past me doing 120. First off, he’s breaking the
rules, and second and most important of all, he is in danger of
losing his life! Moreover, if he doesn’t slow down and take notice
of the situation, we doesn’t only risk his life, but the lives of others
on the road.

      There are so many people today seeking the fast and easy
way to Christ. Denominations have broken the speed limit and are
now endangering the lives of many lost and seeking souls. The
truth of the matter is that there is only one way...His Way. Do you
want to slow down and allow Him to take control of the wheel?
Perhaps you have heard so many different ways that you are
confused. Allow me to tell you some of the Words of Christ
himself. Christ said that whoever believes in him shall not perish.
But it doesn’t stop there. He also said that if you don’t repent, then
you will surely die. Christ said that he who confesses me before
men, I will confess Him to my Father. We just went over Mark
16:16 when he laid it and said he that believes and is baptized will
be saved. Believe, repent, confess Christ, be immersed into His
death, burial, and resurrection, and live in the newness of life.
Perhaps your walk with Christ has been through some hard times.
He’s still the answer. Rededicate yourself to His will and
teachings and you will be relieved.

				
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